The following opinion is presented on-line for informational use only and does not replace the official version. (Mich Dept of Attorney General Web Site -



Opinion No. 5513

July 11, 1979


Licensing of secondhand and junk dealers


Secondhand and junk dealers


'Business establishments'

'Secondhand dealer'

'Junk dealer'

A township may adopt an ordinance regulating and licensing secondhand goods and junk dealers.

Honorable Gary S. Owen

State Representative

The Capitol

Lansing, Michigan 48909

You have asked whether 1945 PA 246, as last amended by 1978 PA 590, MCLA 41.181 et seq; MSA 5.45(1) et seq, permits a township to license secondhand and junk dealers. (1)

It may first be noted that if a township wishes to license and regulate a junkyard and places for the dismantling, wrecking and disposing of the junk and/or refuse materials of automobiles, the township may do so under the provisions of 1929 PA 12, MCLA 445.451 et seq; MSA 19.731 et seq. This statute was construed in Independence Township v Roy, 12 Mich App 107; 162 NW2d 339 (1968), to empower the township to define the term 'junk yard.' Therefore, 1929 PA 12, supra, would apply to junkyards. You have, however, specifically asked whether townships may rely upon 1945 PA 246, supra, as a source of authority.

1945 PA 246, supra, Sec. 1 provides in pertinent part:

'The township board of a township may, at a regular or special meeting by a majority of the members elect of the township board adopt ordinances regulating the public health, safety, and general welfare of persons and property, fire protection, the licensing or use of bicycles, traffic and parking of vehicles, sidewalk maintenance and repairs, the licensing of business establishments, the licensing and regulating of hawkers, vendors, peddlers, solicitors, pawnbrokers, circuses, carnivals, and public amusements, and provide penalties for the violation of the regulations, and shall enforce the same and may for that purpose employ and establish a police department with full power to enforce local township ordinances and state laws. . . .' [Emphasis added]

The phrase 'the licensing of business establishments' underlined above was added by 1974 PA 375. The term 'business establishment' is not defined in the act. Therefore, it must be given its common and approved usage, RS 1846, ch 1, Sec. 3a, MCLA 8.3a; MSA 2.212(1).

In Sloman v Bender, 189 Mich 258, 263; 155 NW 581 (1915), the Michigan Supreme Court stated:

'The general definition of 'business' is:

"That which occupies the time, attention, and labor of men for the purpose of livelihood or profit.' Blacks' Law Dictionary.'

And, in Harper v Lowe, 272 Mich 331, 335; 262 NW 260 (1935), the Michigan Supreme Court defined 'business' as follows:

'. . . In ordinary parlance, 'business' means a commercial and profit-seeking occupation.'

Therefore, it is my opinion that a township may adopt an ordinance regulating and licensing secondhand goods and junk dealers.

Frank J. Kelley

Attorney General

(1) In State v Cohn, 24 Conn Sup 188; 188 A2d 878 (1962), it was held that secondhand materials have utility in their present state, while junk possesses usefulness only by conversion or reduction into components.